Ask a Counselor: is it a failure, or is it a growth opportunity?

Things I used to believe:

You’re supposed to “deal with all your stuff” before you go overseas.

If your stuff starts to resurface while you’re overseas, that’s because you didn’t deal with it enough beforehand.

Stuff resurfacing is bad and an indication of failure.

You better be perfect, or close to it–or else.

If you can’t be perfect, or close to it: pretend.

What I now believe:

You can only deal with your stuff as much as you can at any time.

If your stuff starts to resurface while you’re overseas, that’s because you’re ready to deal with more of it now.

Stuff resurfacing is completely normal and an indicator that you’re growing.

Stuff resurfacing is simply an opportunity to do the work that’s now needed.

The truth is, we’re never done growing and changing.

If we aren’t growing and changing, we’re dying, so growth and change mean we are alive! Yay!

The need for growth and change is not an occasion for shame; it’s just part of the design.

Our past is also not an occasion for shame; it’s simply our past.

We did the best we could at the time.

Now we know better, so now we do better.

Perfect is not possible; just be present.

Perfect is not possible; be open to change.

Perfect is not possible; embrace growth.

For anyone needing to grow and change today (which is all of us, unless we are dead):

You are normal and healthy.

Growth is natural, not shameful.

It’s okay to be in your process, right where you are.

Growth takes time.

Take all the time you need.

When it’s hard, remember: this is not forever; it’s just for right now.

You are perfectly loved, safe, and chosen, exactly as you are.

Yes, exactly as you are. NOW.




(I really mean it. Big deep belly breaths, long and slow. For 3 to 5 minutes. Try it and see.)

Love wins.


Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning

The Inner Voice of Love, Henri Nouwen

Tired of Trying to Measure Up, Jeff Van Vonderen

Messy Spirituality, Mike Yaconelli

photo credit

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Published by

Kay Bruner

Kay Bruner was born in Buffalo, New York and grew up in Brazil, Nigeria, and the wilds of Kentucky. She and her husband have raised their four children in Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, and currently reside in the great state of Texas. Kay is a Licensed Professional Counselor, and divides her work days between counseling and writing. She is the author of As Soon As I Fell and blogs at She is available for counseling at her office in Dallas or via skype for a reduced rate to clients overseas. For more information go to:

Discover more from A Life Overseas |

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading